Thursday, 16 December 2010

Winter in Saint-Lazare

The snow hit us like a big white case of the runs covering everything and causing mayhem for 24 hours before the Canadian winter elves got the roads cleared and salted.  Our neighbourhood turns from Grizzly Adams world to Narnia in the space of a few hours - and stays that way for months. Only the height of the snow and the ever rising and dipping temperature changes. 
So what to do around here in winter? Of course there's skiing. And cross country skiing. And snowshoeing. 
So far I've attended  Santa's Parade and have been invited to a sleigh ride - a proper sleigh ride with horses and a sled (not wheels like in the UK) through the woods. Of course I'm not going although it is 'open to adults without children', for precisely that reason. What adult would go on one alone? Exactly! 
There are Christmas story telling sessions for young children, a Polar Express, and all sorts of Christmassy things. All very nice I hear you think.
HOWEVER that only lasts for another couple of weeks then it's winter proper. No Christmas, just snow and cold. This is when people are driven to preserve things and turn to the bottle - a double pickling if you like. 
I shall talk you through my cabin fever and treacherous outings on this blog. A photo or two will make an appearance too.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


I decided to sign up to write a novel. Rules are:
- write it between 1st and 30th November.
- write at least 50,000 words.
- no previously written work to be used.

Only the last one isn't a problem for me. 

Saturday, 23 October 2010

iPad Chapter 2

I may be in denial (a common state of mind for me) but I am NOT getting addicted to my iPad. Except perhaps for that doodling game and Netflix. And maybe a couple of word games. I'm putting it down to the novelty factor; any new thing demands hours of play time, seeping into sleep time, and housework time. Who hasn't spent five or six hours trying to beat 8 year olds at Pictionary? Who, indeed, hasn't forgotten to pick up their daughter because they needed to beat their own high score on Word Twist? And I know for a fact that people have failed to get their ironing done because they watched the whole first series of Monk back to back.

Monday, 27 September 2010

A Canadian compliment.

This morning I was out walking in the sunshine when an elderly gentleman slowed his car as he approached me, put his head out of his window, smiled at me and said,
'Two beautiful ones.'
Gross, I hear you thinking. Ooh, it's been a long time since anyone said anything like that to me, I thought.
Then I remembered I had my dogs with me who, by anyone's standards, are beautiful.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

iPad. Chapter 1.

I got an iPod for my birthday this week. Entirely because I have a lovely husband who has learned after years together to embrace my heavy hints. I was, however, still most pleasantly surprised to receive this most gorgeous of gadgets.  It is, quite simply, a plaything of delightful proportions. Or actually quite small proportions - slim, light and shiny....just like I want to be. No wonder I love it. Love at first sight. Or feel.'s built for idiots and is pretty much plug and play. So I felt it, and ooohhed at it ,and charged it, and Googled 'best iPad applications' and merrily started to download anything that This, of course, includes pretty much everything that I have on my laptop already.'s now on my iPad! What a hoot. Solitaire has never been so good. And don't ask me about Sudoku - I'll babble uncontrollably about how much better it is on my iPad.  For one thing, I don't get a laptop hump with my iPad - I can lounge on my sofa holding my wafer-thin gadget in one hand, and my glass of wine in another. Perfecto. 

I have called this Chapter 1 as I'm sure I can bore you so much more about the hours I play endless games and (I love this) piano duets with my daughter on my lovely, lovely iPad.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A fall is coming.

Fall, or autumn as it is correctly known, is arriving here. Calling it fall is perfectly descriptive, but a little too literal for my liking. Whatever we call it, I like this time of year. Usually. Before I moved to Canada. Autumn in England goes from about mid September to mid November. It is marked by blustery days where your umbrella is whipped from your hand and turned inside out, and punctuated by crystal clear days where picnics are possible with warm sweaters and a hip flask to ward off the chill. Here, you have one week of leaves turning bright hues followed by a week where every single leaf falls on my drive. Last year, silly me, I went out daily with my broom (a proper witches type broom) and swept my path clear. My reward, more leaves and tennis elbow. This year I shall enjoy week one and perhaps take some photographs, and ignore week two.

Another sign we are in North America is that the shops are full of Halloween goodies, or should I say baddies? I'm not talking about your crappy UK Halloween decorations - I'm talking super-massive, aisle after aisle of outfits, masks, lights, tableware, garden decorations, etc. Ghosts the size of, well, ghosts to put at your front door, giant bats to hang off your trees, spider webs to tease over your shrubs and most prolific of all, treats to give to your Trick or Treaters. And here's a thing.....even people without kids dress up their houses. What's that all about? AND people bring van loads of kids, drop them off in our neighbourhood, and pick them up later. I presume this is because we may give out nicer treats (not me of course) but could it also be because the whole place becomes one giant ghost train designed to attract kids? In the UK when I was a kid a) it was penny for Halloween and a scraped out turnip and b) most people turned their lights out and pretended not to be in. Mr Young who lived down my street used to answer the door but then only actually give us a penny. Between us.  He was the Scrooge of Halloween - we would have preferred not to get his stinking penny on principle but it did buy you 2 Sports chews so every year we went back.

Last year I think I got away with a couple of spiders webs and some tiny plastic spiders. This year I am going to stretch to some pumpkins.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Happy Birthday to me.

On balance, it wasn't really a happy birthday. This is the balance - see what you think.

Cons - hangover; blazing rows (you notice I say rows - there were a few in different rooms of the house) with my Eldest; no decent fireman at a fireman's party I attended by mistake (they were all 60+ or 16); I turned 43.

Pros - I got an iPad and had nice sausages for tea.

Now the iPad is indeed a weighty Pro but I'm sure you agree that even that cannot beat back the trauma of teenage daughters and approaching my mid 40s.  So, this is how my day went:

- got up at 5.30am with stonking headache to drive Husband to train station :(
- got my birthday presents to open :)
- played with aforementioned present for hours :)
- got a crick in my neck from playing too long :(
- did no housework :)  but need to do twice at much tomorrow :(
- spoke to my Mam and sister on Skype :)
- went to buy groceries :(
- ate lunch alone in the car on the way back ( not easy eating soup whilst driving) :(
- had a lovely hot bath :(
- had first argument in the kitchen :((
- had second argument in bathroom :( 
- stormed out of house (I still storm despite being 43) :(
- went to pub to wait for Husband :)
- was told there was a firemen's party that night :)
- all turned out to be old enough to be my father or young enough to be my son :(
- drank wine. Bad wine :(
- read a book. Bad book :(
- got a minute apology for one tiny part of the argument :)
- realised my hangover was in fact exacerbated by the onset of another cold :(
- had organic and delicious sausages for tea with mashed potatoes and beans. Yum. :)

So, I think you will agree that on balance it wasn't that happy. Sadly though, it was a birthday.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

My decrepit body.

So, the plan is to increase the amount of exercise I do in what I suspect will be a vain and short lived effort to finally get fit and lithe. Having been a member of my gym since January hasn't had much of an impact other than I know a few people there now. The timing is predictable; just before another birthday.  The details of my plan are sketchy other than to get up, get dressed and turn up at the gym and do something that makes me sweat. Getting on a stool at the bar there does that at the moment. With that in mind I turned up at the gym this morning full of enthusiasm. As I entered the spin class at just before 8am I overheard part of someone's conversation which went something like this '.....oh you can never get rid of that. Once you hit 40 you have to have that whole thing taken away with plastic surgery.' She indicated the exact band of flab around her middle that happened to be what I wanted to get rid of. I'm 42.  My enthusiasm didn't have a smiley face any more.

Today's plan was to do 2 classes back to back - spinning then a class called 3 x Max. I've done them both before but never one after another. For the uninitiated, spinning is cycling on a stationary bicycle until your head pops and 3 x Max is a mix or aerobics, boxing, weights and abdominal work which you do to music so loud you can't hear any instructions so I spend most of my time out of sync with everyone else. A bit like a crappy dancer who is always off beat.

Spinning went well, i.e. I survived it. The woman next to me was a little off-putting as she did most of her hill climbs with her nose an inch from the handle bars and humming as she did it. Whatever gets you through I suppose.  Straight upstairs to the next class. I should have realised it was going to be hard when the stairs were a challenge.  Sweaty and red-faced I chose my place in the room carefully. Naturally I usually choose the back of the room so I can slack off now and again BUT last time I did that the instructor dragged me to the front as she couldn't see me. I don't think she heard me muttering 'that's the point'. No slacking off at the front of the class. Not only do you have the instructor staring right at you but you have the rest of the class looking at your behind. Incentive indeed.  I carefully positioned myself near the back and over to one side so I only had one person staring at my arse and I could hide now and again from the instructor except, of course, when she goes bounding round the room asking everyone if they are enjoying themselves. Good job she doesn't recognise my Fuck Off face.

10 minutes in and I realised I had made a mighty mistake. I really needed to escape. I strung out a loo break but slowly trudged back in. I couldn't leave for two very good reasons; I had bragged to people in the spin class that I was doing this class too (they were impressed), and someone else from my spin class was also doing this class. And she is at least 15 years older than me.  60 tortuous minutes later, having battled waves of sickness, managed not to wee myself during the Jumping Jacks, and cheating at the sit-ups, it ended. Even the stretching at the end was a tough and I admit I did it half-heartedly. I'm sure I'll suffer tomorrow but at the time I just wanted to get out of the torture chamber. 

Last night after a glass of wine or two I also suggested I might return at 6pm tonight for the Boot Camp. Ha!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Silence is golden, golden.

Today is the first day I am alone (other than 3 dogs) in the house following a spate of visitors and school holidays.  It's quiet and I'm a little lost. All my ironing done by 9.30am which, I can tell you, is nothing short of miraculous.  Floors washed, To Do list already half done. So it's obviously time for some mindless surfing. I've twitted and facebooked, read the news, searched for Good Presents To Buy People With Minimum Effort Required On My Behalf, watched an episode of Come Dine With Me and checked my Lexulous for the 25th time waiting for my sister to hurry up and have her go.  

After a house full of visitors it feels deafeningly quiet and rather boring here. I was just getting used to watching 2 teenage boys eat their weight in food every day, swap insults with their father relentlessly, watch more football than I ever wanted to do, and recycle a dozen orange juice cartons every day. Above all I miss spending time with my family. I want everyone to come and see me on a rolling basis so I achieve a nice mix of visitors and recovery periods.
I'd have to have them in a certain order, of course. For example, after having my argumentative brother here I wouldn't want my argumentative sister to come next - I'd want my nice sister to come, then maybe my mad sister. Mix it up a bit, throw in a friend now and again.  

So.......into a recovery period.  

Monday, 19 July 2010

Back home

I have now been home for a whole week after 3 and a half weeks away. On my return I was struck by 3 things; my pool was green, my gardens were jungles, and my house smells of dog. Now I know the first 2 happened in our absence, but the third couldn't possibly as the dogs were in kennels. This leaves me with the only possible explanation - my house always smells of dogs, I just don't notice it. In fact, the sofas smell more of dog than the actual dogs do. This has inevitably led me to waste innumerable hours on the internet typing in 'how to get rid of dog smell' and 'smelly dogs for sale'. 

The trip to England was a mishmash of catching up with some friends and family, and buying spray-on deodorant which, for some reason, is nigh on impossible to buy in this country. And our middle week was spent in Rome. Just Husband and I (see Rome blog). It all flew by rather quickly but I was ready to come home to my lovely big bed after a selection of crappy hotels and a few nights in my old bedroom at my Mam's. I absorbed as much British TV as possible including the awfully irresistible Jeremy Kyle and the fantabulously painful Come Dine With Me.  Oh, and the World Cup. And crazy gun man news.  

Everything goes so fast in England - especially my siblings' driving. For someone who hasn't driven over 60 mph for almost a year to be transported along country roads at 90mph was 'thrilling'. And shopping - I hate shopping when it's busy but Christmas Eve shopping here is a breeze compared to a Tuesday afternoon on Northumberland Street. And I still hate Primark.

I managed to spend some time with my Nutty Mate who wangled a place for me at a conference lunch as an 'Overseas Housing Consultant' and met all sorts of people I used to work with who all appeared rather confused to see me there.  Needless to say there were loads of people who I didn't manage to catch up with....I just ran out of time. 

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Coming home, Newcastle.

At long last (10 months after arriving) I'm going back to Newcastle tomorrow. I have so far managed to avoid packing anything at all but Youngest who is travelling with me (Eldest coming next week with Husband) has all of her clothes, etc laid out on her bedroom floor, carefully checked off her list, and has her hand luggage packed (as of last week).  If she had her own way it would all be in our suitcase by now,  however, I accept only a few personal faults and one is that I'm rubbish at packing a suitcase and should I put it all in it would inevitably have to come out again. I'm great at bringing the right things, plus lots of extras, but inordinately bad at putting it all in a suitcase. Funny really because I'm great at Tetris, but the ability to make best use of the space in a suitcase is a mental block. Husband would argue that I'm equally bad at 'packing' a shopping trolley but, of course, packing a shopping trolley is ridiculous. And anal.

So...I've spent some time buying Canadian things to take home. They are all typically tacky of course and I have no idea how I'm going to divvy them out.  I don't have enough for everyone (i.e. family of huge proportions and friends of fewer proportions), nor do I have anything that will bring much joy. If my family loved hockey it would be a different matter but the only hockey they may have encountered involves mud and bullying off.  I can only hope the sight of me is reward enough. 

Some items I have bought:

- moose key rings
- a Quebec mug
- Hershey's kisses (not strictly Canadian)
- Kraft Dinner (worse than Pot Noodles but strangely addictive to some)
- some Jell-O (North American blancmange, but Oreo flavour....mmmmm)
- maple syrup (of course)
- maple syrup biscuits (of course again)

I had hoped to buy a Canadian wedding present but...well.....I'm not quite sure what Canada does better than anyone else. Or uniquely. And I don't think moose/beaver/maple themed presents at weddings are quite the done thing.

Some things I'm going to do/buy when I'm in England:

- buy Charles Worthington hair products
- eat slabs of decent butter
- eat my Mam's chips and rice pudding
- go to the Hoppings
- buy spray on deodorant (only roll on/stick here)
- buy Molton Brown
- watch the telly
- buy Yorkshire tea bags
- argue with my family about nothing and everything
- sleep in my old bedroom
- go drinking with my nutty mate until she gets me so drunk I fall asleep wherever I am
- not walk dogs 

I think I'm going to be busy. Except for the not walking dogs bit.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

How to save wildlife our way.

For about 3 weeks now we've had a bird's nest somewhere in the venting leading from our cooker hood to the outside wall - this venting travels across the top of a whole room so it's fairly long and we couldn't work out exactly where the nest was, only that we heard the babies chattering for their food every now and again. Of course this meant we have been unable to use our cooker lest we murder them.  So the waiting game long could we bare to have a BBQ AGAIN versus give in and risk baby bird slaughter. It was getting pretty close I can tell you - my desire to save the birdies was reducing in direct proportion to the prospect of more frazzled chicken and corn on the cob.  

Then something happened. Just as our willpower was really weakening one of the baby birds decided to travel our way along the vent and launch itself over the edge onto the top of our cooker hood and there proceed to squeak and flap and, rather curiously, run on top of the fan like a hamster.  Having a husband who is more of an animal lover than Johnny Morris (though he doesn't pretend to be animals like Johnny) he set out to rescue it.  It's worth pointing out here that my husband isn't most famous for his DIY skills unless they involve glueing fingers together with superglue.

After much deliberation he decided that the only way to possibly get access to the bird was to remove part of the kitchen. I must say that a feeling of foreboding grabbed me by the gut at the idea but it seemed he was intent on the rescue so I agreed to help.  After a trip to the local hardware shop to buy allen keys to remove a kitchen cupboard and discovering they were the wrong tool we eventually found the right tool in the basement, left over from the previous occupant. So, picture this.....cooker hood attached to cupboard above it which is attached to the frame of the rest of the kitchen. He unscrewed the cupboard which keeps the cooker hood in place which meant one of us had to try to pull out the heavy cupboard while the other one supported the equally heavy cooker hood. I don't mind telling you that I have weak wrists so neither prospect was attractive, but I didn't have the luxury of thinking about it much as it all sort of came apart at once. I grabbed, then lugged the cupboard out and staggered a couple of feet before placing it on a very handy, though unplanned, chair. This left my husband holding the cooker hood but happily at this point the bird dropped out and flew across the room.
'Get it out,' he shrieked. It is understandable that he spoke so urgently; we have 3 Ridgebacks who looked both interested and hungry at the same time.
'Wait, help me.' Sweat had broken out on his forehead as he held the cooker hood up looking like a weird Strongest Man contestant.
I picked up the cupboard in the absence of anything else big enough and shuffled it under the cooker hood where it still sits some days later.

After shooing and waving failed to do anything except get us running from one side of the room to the other and the dogs to drool in anticipation my husband threw a tea towel over it, grabbed it,  and let it go in the garden. My hero. 

The prospect of trying to put the kitchen back together has meant more days of BBQs. We had chicken last night. For a change.  The thing is, he only had to actually undo 4 screws under the cooker hood and the bird would have dropped out. I told you about his DIY skills didn't I?

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Mustard gas.

Wednesday night seemed much like any lovely; had a BBQ (because there are birds nesting in our cooker extraction piping and we don't want to kill them); watched the dogs, greyhound-like, running around the pool; had a few glasses of wine. All seemed well in the world. Then on Thursday the Yellow arrived. My husband noticed it first around the pool, on tables and chairs...then as we looked we saw that a fine layer of fine yellow dust covered absolutely everything. What could it be? Icelandic volcanic ash? Sulphur? Or (my guess) mustard gas from some weird Canadian faction who hated foreigners (they really exist).  My husband tasted it - stupid on reflection, but it seemed like a good idea at the time apparently. No taste. We smelled it - no apparent smell. Hhhmmmmm.  

Before I tell you what this mystery powder is, and the embarrassing way I found out, I should say that I have a stunningly overactive imagination.  If my children or husband are 5 minutes late I have them in some awful accident, cut from a wreckage, ambulanced to hospital and in an operating room. So mustard gas was my first thought...but I quickly moved on to napalm and then on to some unknown stealth killer designed to poison every living thing and discolour my clothes.  Too late to phone the Town Hall....who to ask? My neighbour has lived here for years and always available on emails so I flew a quick 'do you have scary yellow dust in your garden?'

Her reply began with LOL which didn't bode well for my pride. 'It's pine pollen you dufus.'  She didn't quite phrase it like that but she may as well have.  So - not a secret killer - pine pollen. Nobody told me about this before or after I got here. Do they think it's normal?  Nothing in the guide books, nothing in the Welcome to Canada leaflets, no forewarning from neighbours or, indeed, my English friends.  

Oh, and not only is it not poisonous - it's a health food.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Gardening is shite

I hate gardening. I have long avoided it until absolutely necessary ( such as I can't get in the house unless I use a machete) . I hate getting that dirty. I hate not knowing or caring which are weeds and which aren't. I hate the physical labour required. I hate the inevitable insects. I hate most plants. So what did I do? Move somewhere with big gardens and a legal requirement to 'maintain' them. I am already building my case about what maintain actually means - I think something along the lines of 'being able to get access to the house'. 

But there are more pressures to keep the garden neat. The neighbours all have neat gardens for one, but more's not rocket science. Stupid people have nice gardens. Gardeners can be stupid and make a living. It's a pride thing I suppose.....and it's not going to lick me. The final challenge I have is that the whole way I run my life is to do everything at the last minute, usually under pressure. This does not bode well for gardens which require constant tending, nurturing, fiddling. I need a garden that needs a blitz once a season which after much moaning and groaning to my husband I finally get someone else to do as it's 'too big a job for me.' 

So to my gardens. We live on a corner plot with gardens on 2 sides in an 'L' shape. Lots of trees, lots or borders, a few lawn areas and a mix of shaded and sunny. I couldn't design a more complex garden. So, my efforts so far, which have been meagre, are go for the biggest impact with least effort. When I say 'least' I hasten to add that even these turn me into a sweat monster. Cutting the lawns is fairly manageable (except the slopey storm parts at the front which requires a brute forced husband) and has quite a big impact. Next, turning over the soil and weeding/deplanting the borders. Big impact - hard work in both the decision-making process and physically. Physically this made me go blind with sweat and curse the idiots who decided on borders over gravel.  Deciding which greenery to dig up was a bit of a gamble which strangely grew proportionately easier the longer I did it due to the fact I grew to care even less. The only weeds I really know are dandelions (more of these later) and nettles. In the interest of time and effort saving I decided that the nettles look quite nice and may deter intruders so I left those.  After an hour of back breaking and knee aching I managed to do half of one of the many borders which accounts for about 15% of all of them.  Oh, and of course the bastard mosquitoes decided to sap my energy further concentrating on my feet of all places.

So by now I know how shite it is to do my garden and I am faced with the rest of it.  But by far the biggest challenge is the sodding dandelions.  The scourge of Canada due to last years ban on weed killers with any useful strength. So the only option is to dig the buggers out. Everyone has been there...but I suggest not everyone has the number of dandelions that I have. Millions. Fields. So close together that what you end up actually doing is digging over whole expanses of garden. Digging is bottom of my list of garden things to do, it comes just below spiders running up my trouser leg. 


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Leon has arrived.

After months of deliberation and a week of crappy staff dodging phone calls at the Dodge garage we finally got Leon. Leon is a Dodge Challenger RT. I'm not sure how much more I need to say unless you are a hopeless non-car person in which case I can add that it's very fast, looks gorgeous and drives like a dream. It is a drool-worthy car. Literally, a head turner. An Oh My God car. A bastards, I want a car like that car. 

We decided that life it too short to not get a car like this at least once in our lives.  Of course I have to bare the pain of my husband inspecting it every 5 minutes for smudges or, god forbid, a scratch.  I'm warned daily to 'drive carefully' and 'you're too near this side of the road' and 'don't park near anyone'. I've gone from nabbing the closest car parking spaces to the front door of shops to parking a couple of miles away and hiking there.  I close the door with a corner of my t-shirt to avoid smudges and dust my feet off before I get in the car. I was so paranoid that someone would steal it if I left my daughter in it for 5 minutes I made her come with me so I could lock and alarm it (I wasn't worried about them stealing her). The funny thing about this car is husband now seems to be working at home more. Spooky that.

So, in order of preference here are my favourite parts of the car:
- it's front end - looks fierce.
- it's back end - big black bum.
- the big shiny wheels - 20" chrome
- the iPod thingy so I can play my tunes without using one of those crappy radio lead things.
- the in car phone thing

These, of course, are overshadowed by the vroom vroom of it.

It's a lovely new toy and we'll love it forever and ever. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Coronation Street Club

I was at a friend's shop on Saturday and the organizer of the Coronation Street Club came in and asked my friend if she was going to attend and, because my husband and I were there and had been introduced, we were invited along too. We agree because it seems like a bit of a laugh - neither of us has seen Coronation Street since the days of Hilda and Stan and their muriel, but it sounds like a blog-worthy event. Then we are told about the 'theme'.  A colour theme for your attire - we struck lucky as it's 'pale blue' this month. Our friend told us Halloween is particularly challenging as they choose orange over black.  The meetings are held in a lovely local restaurant - as it happens this blog's head picture was taken from the grounds of this pub, so right on the lakeside. We arrived a little late but we had a table booked and looked around to see where everyone was. A sea of pale blue at one end of the pub showed the way - almost everyone had taken the theme seriously.  And all of them were a couple of decades older than us.

The organiser introduced visitors to the group (we got a round of applause thank you very much) and then proceeded to wax lyrical about cast members and saying things like 'this isn't a spolier but so-and-so gets fired by the writer's next month'. That is actually a spoiler, mate. I'm not sure how long he talked, we just laughed and chattered through it all. Some people at the table next to us were seemingly enraptured by his words, staring intently at him and piping up with questions every now and again. I think we were the only ones actually speaking to each other (albeit in muted tones). It's not a club as such, just this guy talking about the cast members - nobody else really says anything and they don't discuss story lines or characters as I thought you would. Oh, and best of all, one guy came over with his photo album with pictures of when he visited the Rover's Return - not in Weatherfield, but Toronto.  His wife who is the co-organiser and setter of themes (long pale blue linen coat, blue earrings and rings) sold us raffle tickets at one point. The prizes are all along the same theme as the meeting. Fortunately we didn't win. She asked me if I was an aficionado of the Street. 'Erm.... I wouldn't go that far' was my reply.  So, after hearing about Denise Welch's drug taking and affairs and stuff about actors I had never heard of, we ate.

It was a really nice afternoon despite, or perhaps because of, the weirdness.  Wine helped too.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Where's the bloody toilet?

It's always an adventure when my husband and I stay out at a hotel for a mini-break. Last time we got upgraded (because the toilet didn't work) to a huge suite with jacuzzi bath, kitchen, 4 rooms, lake view, etc. On Friday the toilet theme continued at our hotel in Montreal.  Lovely evening.....went to a restaurant with the best service I've encountered. Shame the food tasted cack. I suppose if you have the nerve to order piglet then you deserve, through the laws of Karma, to have it taste like greasy grease grease. Poor piglet.

We had drinks in the hotel bar then went to our room. Flash forward to 3am (not least because you don't need the details before then) and I'm up and going to the toilet. I know where it is, I got dressed there earlier. First door on the left. So how then do I find myself out in the hotel corridor and only realise it a millisecond after the door closes behind me? Did I mention I was naked? Or that my husband was fast asleep? Or that I could hear someone in the corridor around the corner?

I knocked almost silently - the last thing I wanted was for some bleary eyed neighbour thinking I was knocking on their door. Needless to say my husband slept on....I think I could even hear him snoring. Oh God! The person around the corner was coming closer, or so it seemed to my increasingly panicked mind. I knocked again a little louder. Nothing. Louder. Get up. Get up. Get up! I began to curse him for sleeping through my trauma. I was also getting cold and of course I was dying for a wee. Eventually I heard him walking around the room. How long could it take him to get there....five seconds perhaps? Hurry up. Hurry up. Hurry up! What was he doing? I knocked again and pressed my eye up to the peep hole to see if I could see him. Then the door opened.

Apparently it had taken him so long to open the door because he was looking for me! He found it all hugely amusing.

THEN I went to the real bathroom and the toilet broke! An hour waiting for a repair so we raided the mini bar and got it all free for our trouble. All's well that end's well.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Mam I can see your party knickers

Youngest has always been a funny little thing. I blogged about her for ages then she started to grow out of that cute age and grew a foot, learned how to roll her eyes (usually at me) and says 'whatever' indiscriminately. But every now and then she says whatever enters her head, hence the 'I can see your party knickers' which were showing a little above my jeans when I bent over to pick something up. I'm not sure what her idea of party knickers is but they are now my favourite pair. I just need to find a party.

A couple of other habits which she hasn't grown out of are:

a) stealth. As a toddler she could creep into my bedroom, stand right in front of me and stare until I woke up. She was usually just wearing wellies - she outgrew that bit, thank God. Her version now is to get into a room silently so she's standing right behind you, or on all fours, and wait to be discovered. It drives me mad and it's creepy but I just can't get her out of the habit. Might help her one day.....say if she decides to be a Ninja.

b) weirdness. We quite like this one and have let her be as weird as she likes. Point in hand, she told people at her school she had an imaginary friend called Jeff, just to creep them out. She's 12, OK, and she spent an hour playing with 2 oingy things you use to fasten stuff on your car AND another hour zapping mosquitoes with electric killer thing (which admittedly I bought for her). Her younger version of this was talking to chopsticks. Right now she's talking to my newly ironed top.

Eldest is going to break the Have An Argument Every Day With Your Mother Award. This was previously held by her Auntie Catherine but she's showing no signs of weakening so I think it's in the bag.  Latest one was my arguments not being strong enough - apparently 'inappropriate behaviour' is meaningless.  It's not a PROPER reason. I resorted to 'just do as your told' then 'end of conversation' which is a parent cheat but I could feel her coming in for the kill.

So if you worry about your kids, just think of me.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Cheers Boston

My husband and I spent the weekend in Boston. We researched the hotel and places to visit and I had a list prepared. You should know that I write many, many lists and very rarely follow them.
The hotel was described as a 'great place to stay' and 'perfect location, with 'great rates'.  The one negative remark that kept coming up was 'unfriendly staff' but we thought we could cope with a bit of surliness if everything else sounded so good. I called to book and encountered one of the miserable members of staff who, it seems, wasn't that arsed if I stayed there or not. We duly arrived there on Friday evening and it is indeed in a great location, if by that you mean it's close to places you want to see, and not in a location that might afford you some sleep. The decor was a sort of mesh of old Grandma furniture and more old Grandma furniture.  The 'superior' room we had consisted of a narrow tubular living room with a small TV (which I could see clearly despite my poor vision because the sofa was so close to it). The sofa turned out to be a sofa bed, for masochists; each spring was carefully placed a hair's breadth from the surface to ensure a full body imprint. We decided not to sleep there although it seemed a marginally better offer than our bedroom which consisted of what was a bedsize somewhere between single and double, and nothing else because it would be impossible to fit anything else in the room. An upside of this is that it wasn't far to either the toilet or the light. I could almost reach the fridge in the kitchenette too.
Apart from the fact that the hotel is situated on a busy road, with another busy road on it's other side, and another busy road above it. And a very convenient and squeaky underground. It also had no air conditioning and, for some unknown reason, the heating was on 'boil' which meant we melted or opened some windows to let in the noise. The happy receptionist who took my booking seemingly arranged for someone to drill holes into concrete and empty the industrial sized bins at 3am too.
Up early on Saturday we looked at our list.
1. Go to Cheers Bar
2. Take a tram tour of the city
3. Visit the Prudential Centre
4. Visit the Aquarium
Four items is quite a lot for us. We tend to just meander from bar to bar....  and so it turned out to be.  We opted for the lazy tour which involved just items 1 and 3.  Item 1 because it is the main reason I wanted to go to Boston and had watched some Cheers on YouTube to get me in the mood. Item 3 turned out to allow us to see the whole of boston from the 50th floor so negating the tram tour albeit we didn't know what we were looking at and it was very small. Item 4 had a queue and I don't queue.  So, back to Cheers for lunch. Apparently the actual Cheers was filmed in a studio and only the front was used in the programmes BUT the owner had recreated the bar on the first floor of the building. Lies! It was tiny, it had loads of windows, no pool room, no Indian...oh I could go on.  We decided to eat there and the food was just horrid. Apparently the name is enough to bring custom.  We did, of course buy a Norm beer mug and some t-shirts. Mine's classic, my husband's says 'I don't even know my name.' Draw your own conclusions about our taste.

Boston is a lovely place, or at least the bits we saw. We learned 2 very important lessons in Boston - you get what you pay for (we've learned this lesson before but apparently forgot it); and TV is just an illusion.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Shopping with my Geordie mate

I've had a thoroughly nice day shopping with my new found friend from Newcastle.  My favourite part was when she introduced me to her quilting group (yes, quilting group) with 'this is Maggie, she arrived in August, we're from the same town'.  That was my summation - name, status and origin. No mention of hours of childbirth, 20 year career path or exceptionally amusing personality. Hey ho.
We perused boutique after boutique and I bought the following:
- a hat, which I like and my children hate. The dogs like it though.
- a pair of goggles you wear that protect your eyes when you cut onions. They are for my husbands use and my amusement.
- spray which you squirt on your toilet water before you have a poo which stops your poo smelling. I haven't decided who to give this to - the competition is fierce.
- a magic pair of shorts and a t-shirt which is currently the size of a glove but which will expand to human size AND a tube of towels which do similar things (except they are currently the size of Trebor mints). 
- some 'Montreal Road Kill Hot Sauce' for my nutty mate. 

All in all a great day shopping. And I found a local Indian take-away. How can it get any better?

Monday, 22 March 2010

Melty poo

Finally the weather allowed me to clean up all the dog poo in the garden. Thankfully most of it was contained in the dog 'run' which is actually a nice term for a very not nice place. A gravelly shit pit is perhaps more honest. It's quite amazing really - the amount of poo three dogs can do. Let's say they do one poop each per day, although I suspect it's closer to two or three, and that poop weighs between 8 and 12 ounces. That's about 10-15lbs of dog poop in a week and that's being conservative.  Add to this equation that some poo has been buried under layers of snow for 4 months and I estimate I picked up about 40lbs of dog poo on Sunday.  I'd also like you to picture the consistency of the poos ranging from 'firm and pick-upable' to 'mush and ooze through fingers'. And my method? I wear a rubber glove - thin ones like a doctor - and just pick them up. This ensures that I feel the consistency almost as if I used my bare hand, which I never do except by accident.

What did you do on Sunday?

Monday, 15 March 2010

St Paddy's Day without the Irish?

On Saturday a local town arranged and hosted it's first St Patrick's Day parade - driven by the local Irish Pub, it seems. We all went armed with cameras to the much advertised event boasting 'numerous floats'. We drove down and managed to find a parking spot - it looked like it was going to be a big turnout. The main street was lined with loads of people, most wearing something green and many had even bothered to buy 'leprechaun' hats or have their face painted. Dogs (loads of them) and their owners wore green neckerchiefs, kids wore green antennae things, some people had even brought chairs and flasks, obviously seasoned watchers.

The parade eventually began and it was charming only because it was so enthusiastically haphazard. I did spot one or two floats, the rest was a mix of flat bed trucks, Harley Davidsons, mini cars, emergency services, and enthusiastic Irish Dancers. Incidentally these Irish dancers wore traditional dress - except for their footwear. These consisted of high top trainers and multicoloured sandshoes.

I think there were some local dignitaries (men in black coats) and people were handing out free sweets and gifts. One man near us complained about his free toy and demanded something else. He obviously believed he had consumer rights over free gifts. Some men (think Laurel & Hardy, Sons of the Desert) were driving miniature cars for some bizarre reason and, of course, we had the Scottish Pipe Bands hopefully playing Irish jigs. After probably an hour of painfully slow parading the show was over.

Like cockroaches we all scuttled back to our houses and cars and the streets were once again empty except for the 2 pubs in town which, I'm sure, had a great day. Much like the Sucrerie, cheesy but enjoyable. Oh, and I suspect there weren't any Irish people there at all even though there were a few 'Kiss me I'm Irish' ties. I suspect they just wanted a kiss. They didn't fool me.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Dilbert and The Stalker

The guy who created Dilbert has a blog stalker. Seemingly some mad woman who writes what goes through her mind rather than bothering to relate it to whatever blog he has posted. does that happen? Is she someone he knows? Is she a Dilbert fan? A blog fan?

I want a blog stalker. How can I get one? Advertise? Become a cartoonist? It seems like too much bother. I may become a blog stalker - that's easy. Find some random blog and start stalking. Is it illegal? I can't believe it can be as long as the rants are just mad and not threatening.

If you have a blog you'd like me to stalk let me know.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Sweet Sugar Shack

Yesterday we went to a local sugar shack and it was just brilliant, all except for the 40 minute wait in the queue for tickets despite 'reserving' ours online. For the non-Canadians a sugar shack is where you go to see how (and taste) maple syrup is made from 'sugaring off' the trees. Youngest was inappropriately dressed for 40 minutes standing on ice, or indeed, 5 minutes standing on ice so she moaned, almost silently, until I took her over to a 'warmer' spot which happened to be next to a stall selling knitted dolls. They were ugly little things wearing wooly hats, a red scarf and a lumberjack shirt. Youngest chose the ugliest one (hard choice) because nobody else would buy it and it magically warmed up her feet.

Eventually we entered the main building. The whole place is a jumble of old wooden buildings at the base of a mountain with a horse drawn sleigh ferrying people up from the car park to wait for their 40 minutes of foot freezing. The main building was essentially a barn filled with rows and rows of tables with a huge fireplace at one end and a small stage at the other. We were shown to our end of a table and we ordered some wine. The place was absolutely packed; dozens and dozens of children running around and the chatter of what seemed like hundreds of people almost drowned out the music playing in the background. Course after course was brought to us - pea soup, sausages, meat pie, ham, beans, meatballs, mashed potatoes - and a huge loaf of bread baked in one of the other buildings. Our wine didn't actually taste like wine at all but it wasn't unpleasant. Huge bottles of their maple syrup adorned each table and dessert was, of course, pancakes and some extremely sweet pie which had a hint of coffee about it. More than can be said for the actual coffee which was the only disappointment.

Then the entertainment came on - two guys, one singing and playing the guitar and the other playing a fiddle. But wait for it.........he also played a saw!! Oh my god. They had all the kids dancing around the room and playing some wooden clacker thing along to the music. It was just fab. On our way out we rolled up some maple taffy on lolly sticks to eat. I got an immediate sugar rush from it, wrapped it in some scrap paper, put it in my bag and found it later after it had melted over most of the contents of my bag. I actually found myself sucking my make-up bag on the way home.

So it was worth every penny - I think I enjoyed it more than any of us and we may even have caught the saw playing on video!

p.s checked the website and the very sweet pie was Sugar Pie. Of course.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Funny old week this week

It is Spring break so I've left my children with babysitters while I got on with my life - the TV and the laptop. Initially expensive but they pay for themselves. There's an added bonus that the children are pretty much tied to one room so the rest of the house is mine!!

So, to my week:
Monday - in Montreal overnight not seeing the last day of the Festival of Lights. It appeared that they cancelled the final day and failed to advertise the fact. Regardless, we enjoyed our evening at the old port supping wine and eating in not one but two hostelries. Excellent idea - have a starter in one then main course in another. Double the tips but if we hadn't we wouldn't have encountered the beer cocktails!! Beer with tequila. Wine for me of course - only stupid men would drink beer with tequila. My husband had one - he's intelligent enough to have disliked it.
Went shopping in real shops (as opposed to 'outlets') - bought books and t-shirts and a Cowboy Junkies CD.

Tuesday - French person rang and left a message with Youngest. In French. Wonder what that was about then?

Wednesday - booked our tickets for the local Sucrerie, or Sugar Shack at they are known. A very Canadian thing where's easier if you look.

We go there on Sunday (dragging Eldest along too although it's blatantly uncool). Blogworthy I hope.

I also did my first Spinning class on Wednesday. To cut a long story short I was heavily encouraged by the gym owner and went on a whim. As it turned out, a hugely misguided whim. I gave her the Geordie salute as I came out after an hour of deafening, pulsing music, heavy breathing and a number of groans. My bum was so sore I walked out like John Wayne.

Thursday - a marathon of an addictive PS3 game with Youngest. She's better than me but that's the only thing in her life where she is better than me so I admit it without malice. Or much malice. Rearranged furniture in living room with no help from weakling Youngest. Spoke to my sister on Skype and complained about our own bodies (although I could easily complain about her body too). Bought more tea and chocolate from British shop. Saw a deer at the side of the motorway. Saw Orion and lots of other constellations in a beautifully clear sky. Met my husband after work for a couple of drinks....then we came home and had a couple more drinks.

Friday - hangover. I usually don't get hangovers as I rarely allow my blood to be without alcohol but due to the aforementioned weight loss efforts I've limited drinks to weekends. Stupid idea. Oh, and a weekend starts on a Thursday night if my husband is working from home on the Friday. I did, however, manage some exercise. Lost another 2lbs.
Fab dab news - our landlady says she'll renew our lease for another year in the summer so we have somewhere to live until August 2011. I may even decorate.
Discovered Melissa Etheridge.

Roll on the weekend.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Pooped'll be glad to know. The tea worked it seems, so go forth and drink, drink, drink all ye constipated people.

Day 8 and I have to admit that days 6 and 7 were less than perfect, then so am I. Wine was the devil that tripped me up but I must say that even under the influence I didn't eat crap - chicken, salads, soup...and of course the shakes and bars. I even took a bar for my breakfast this morning after a night in Montreal. We went to see the finale of the Festival of lights and it turned out to be...well.....unlit. But we enjoyed ourselves anyway in the old port sitting at the bar of a lovely jazz restaurant (i.e. live jazz every night which must be soul destroying for the employees). We had some delicious wine which we've discovered is stocked at our local off license at less than half the price. Criminal.

By Day 6 I had lost 6lbs so feeling groovy. Just another 26 to go. Will I lose it all by 18th June? Highly unlikely but I'll give it a bloody good go! This weeks plan is gym Tues - Fri and work out at home at the weekend. Today I have off as I'm suffering from the effects of wine (and no carbs to soak it up). I'm also trying to get a playlist of workout music - motivational, upbeat and ones I don't know the words to. It's VERY hard to resist joining in whilst on the rowing machine and I cannot multitask. Rowing and breathing at the same time is hard enough without introducing a song I know well. So no Abba or Baccara.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Detox my arse

Day 5 now and I have lived through the 2 days of gunk, and was that first shake delicious? You bet it was. The best 'meal' I've had in ages; thick and creamy with lumps of frozen banana surprising me from time to time as I spooned it in, trying desperately not to guzzle, guzzle, guzzle. Savouring is quite hard to do, I find, when you are starving.

Day 3 was the hardest so far - woke feeling hungry and a little weak. 20 minutes later I could have done cartwheels (if I could actually do cartwheels which is a regret I live with) because that vanilla and banana shake was nectar. Yum. And lunch? Chocolate. Sort of. A bar of what looked to be of unsatisfying size, but promising flavour and, let's face it, solid food. I was advised to drink lots of water with the bars. Good advice, because delicious as they are they are obviously designed to be eaten slowly due to their uncanny ability to stick to the roof of your mouth as well as every tooth. But yummy.

It was Day 4 when I realised that it's all a psychological trick. Feed them shite for 2 days and anything tastes nice, then feed them shakes and solids taste nice (whatever they are) then let them actually eat food once a day and it all seems worth it. However, I am still committed. I WILL be slim(mer) by the time I go to the wedding in July (and prior to that lounge around in Rome in skimpy t-shirts). I even have a dress I bought that was in Debenhams sale that has never fit me but it's so, so nice. Blue and cream silk, halter neck, hides fat knees. Perfect. I need new shoes though - dogs have eaten all of mine.

So, Day 5. Bar for breakfast before my gym session. Weighed myself and have lost 4lbs. A drop in the flab ocean but a drop nevertheless. And then I was assaulted by an overpowering desire for a cuppa. I love my cups of Yorkshire tea in the morning. But it's not de-caffeinated. Oh no! That's against the detox rules. But hang on? I haven't detoxed anything yet. How did that pass me by? Or not, so to speak. I've wee'd gallons and I've been on solids for 2 days now (well if you call salad and wild rice solids) so where is all that getting stored? Uh oh. I think I read somewhere, or someone sent an email, or I perhaps heard something like it - tea makes you poo. I'm sure some doctor somewhere, probably America, said that tea was a natural laxative. And Yorkshire tea, due to it's earthy northern origins, developed amongst the pits and ponies must surely be one of the best laxatives? I know - I'll try an experiment and let you all know. I'll sacrifice the no caffeine rule just for the good of you all. I'll force down a few cups of tea and give you a blow by blow account of the outcome.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


I'm having a week off physio to give my shoulder, my purse and my titties a rest.

In that week I'm doing a detox. I'd like to say that my primary reason for this is to cleanse my body of years of toxins, but of course the real reason is to lose weight even if that weight is waste that has been clinging to my colon for the last 20 years.

This is how it goes - on Day 1 & 2 all I have is 4 drinks of cleansing gunk and lots of water. The drinks of cleansing gunk measure 4oz each. That's half a small glass. Days 3-7 are shakes/bars for 2 meals and then a low calorie 'normal' meal. Sounds unappetising eh? Well I can tell you, after just one day of gunk I can't wait for a vanilla shake with banana and raspberry - sounds like heaven. And a chocolate peanut bar? Mmmmmmmmmmm.

So today is the start of Day 2. Yesterday wasn't too bad really. I only felt mildly hungry, the hardest thing was not picking while I was cooking for the family. Just a little bit of mushroom or a slice of pepper - yum! The only symptom of no food was tiredness - I was dozing on the sofa by 8.30pm, in bed by 9pm, slept like a log. If today is the same this will be a breeze.

Funny, but that last sentence sounds uncomfortably like famous last words........

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Twitchless titties

So the first time was a fluke. Just my luck.

Yesterday's physio session was much more tame - more pulsing, but pads apparently placed to avoid more titty twitching and concentrate instead on the actual part of my body that needs stimulation. It started with what seemed to be rather useless exercises with a large rubber band and culminated with the taping session.
'Do you have a cross on your bra?'
Hhhmmmm....I had one with polka dots but I couldn't picture one with crosses on.
'Erm.....I don't think so.'
'On the back (he makes an 'X' sign with his hands)?'
I obviously have a blank look on my face.
'Like you use for sports.'
Aha! That sort of bra. I remember throwing one out some months ago because, well, I didn't do any sports.
'No, I'm afraid not.'
'OK - we will try an experiment.'
Uh oh. Not what I really wanted to hear immediately after a discussion about bras.
'Oh? Erm..what sort of experiment?'
He smiled.
'With your bra.'
Now at this point I have to remind you that I am in a strange country with a strange foreigner from yet another country. This is only our third (physio) date for goodness' sake and he wants to experiment with my bra?
Silence is my best response. Only response.
'Turn around and sit down here please.'
I did as I was told trying not to let my mind go crazy thinking bra/experiment/bra/experiment.
So here is what he did to help my year long shoulder problem. He taped my back into a 'comfortable' position with 'better posture'. I read from this that my posture is crap and that he obviously mistook the term 'comfortable' for 'extremely uncomfortable'. THEN he pulled my new La Senza bra straps together at the back (thank god) and wrapped tape ( of the Elastoplast type) around them to form the aforementioned 'X'.
'Keep that on until your next session to see if that helps.' An experiment indeed. He had no idea and hoped to shortcut Nike's years of sports bra development with a bit of tape. Oh and of course I wouldn't be able to shower for 2 days.
I don't think so.
My husband tore the tape off last night with what can only be called relish, although he described it as necessary speed. And a grin. Then he managed to snip off the tape which was yanking in my straps and I was back to normal; humpty-backed and still in pain.
I go for my X-ray tomorrow.....I can't wait.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


We were watching a film the other day where one of the characters had an imaginary friend. Youngest was sitting next to me and as an indicator of a) how she might be settling here and b) her weirdness, I asked if she had an imaginary friend.
'Well....why don't you tell your friends at school you do have one to creep them out?'
'Already have.'
'You have? What's it called?'
That's my girl.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Twitchy Titties

Along with a broken foot I have a longstanding 'thing' wrong with my shoulder. I've self-diagnosed as stress, old whiplash injury, and bad posture and have had a half-hearted diagnosis from a doctor who prescribed me pills that turned me into a screaming harradon but didn't do much for my shoulder (although I think I forgot the pain while I was screaming).

Eventually, as per my previous blog, I went to the doctors and was prescribed drugs, physiotherapy and an x-ray. The drugs were pretty good but only lasted 10 days and the physio was deferred due to my broken foot and, to be honest, an inherent disbelief in anything that has therapy in its name. Although I might take chemotherapy seriously if necessary.

So Monday was my first ever physiotherapy session with a Bulgarian therapist. I know this because I asked where his weird name came from. He led me into a curtained room just big enough for a massage table (mmm....goody, I thought) and a chair. He asked me to take off my top but 'leave bra' and put on a hospital gown. After what I suspect was the usual poking, arm raising, yes/no to pain level questions and questions about my lifestyle he said I needed sessions 2 times a week and to lie down.
'When?' I asked
'Now. We are going to get the machine.'
I wondered if it might be a massage machine, after all I was lying on a massage table, but he wheeled in a small contraption with wires, digital displays and instantly recognisable circular pads (I've seen One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest twice). Fortunately the pads were too large for my temples and after placing them on my back he wrapped a large heated toweling sausage around my neck and turned on the juice.
'Woohoo,' I gasped.
'Too much? It needs to be strong but comfortable.' He turned it down a bit to a very comfortable buzz.
'I'll come back in two minutes to turn it up when you are used to it.'
It was lovely. It would have been nicer had I not needed to listen to the moans and groans of my neighbour complaining about some sports injury.
He duly returned and turned it back up to Woohoo level, which I managed to cope with, and left the cubicle again to listen to the moaner.

As I lay there feeling the pulse I realised I could feel it beyond the bounds of the pads, indeed I could feel it right through to the front of my body. Ooohhh...what was this? It was in my titties, and felt quite nice. I opened an eye to look and lo and behold they were actually twitching. Not in time with each other or anything, just randomly. I started to giggle because it felt tickly, because it looked good, and because of the growing hysteria I was feeling at the thought of my (male) therapist coming back. How much longer did I have before he returned and saw my titty dance? What should I say if he came in? Is there anything that would seem appropriate?

Meeeeep! The timer and machine went off. I checked for any residual twitches. Phew!

I go back again today. How much longer can my luck last? Maybe a padded bra today - or no bra and see if they can do the Macarena.

In trying to describe how it felt/looked to my husband this is all I could come up with.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Lake dancing

Well....not quite dancing, more standing very,very still saying 'hurry up' through a grin to my husband who was taking a picture on me as I stood on a frozen lake. An earlier blog suggested this would be one of the last things I would ever do (comes straight before gouging my own eyes out, and eating squid) but I was drawn in by the danger, and my husband's enthusiastic encouragement. It's not every husband who encourages their wife to stand on a frozen lake while they safely stand on land taking photos. Lucky me.

He then took some photos of people DRIVING and CAMPING on said lake. The lake in question is the one in the header of this blog. It's pretty big, and presumably quite deep and to top it off - these campers (for campers, read nutters) drill holes in it! And they camp in little huts they either transport or build there or worse still, great big camper vans. Surely it isn't just me who thinks this is madness?
Me = sane - v - canadians = mad.
Place your bets.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


I have just discovered House. No time to blog - just got Series 3 out.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Mary Kay made me over

Today, after two cancelled attempts due to cold sores and broken feet, I went to a neighbours house for a consultation. Consultation always seems too grand a word when we were basically talking about make-up but I suppose that's the point; the industry trying to convince us how important make-up is to us. Funny, I wanted make-up when I was 17, now I need it.

I arrived and was taken straight into the downstairs loo for a hand pamper. It might just be me but I think I expected to be pampered - not do it myself with products supplied. So I duly washed with hand cleanser, exfoliated and then moisturised as instructed. I could have just read the labels I suppose.

Next - down to the basement where, after avoiding the punch bag and yoga mats, we went into the 'consultation room'. Compact and full of MK goodies, probably a basement loo at one time. I took a seat. What followed was evidence that I have bugger all idea about what and how to put stuff on my face. I had been doing things in the wrong order with the wrong fingers and the wrong pressure and wrong colours. Who knew that I should use my ring fingers to apply eye cream (not that I ever apply eye cream)? And that I should apply foundation in dozens of 'chicken pocks' across my face to avoid over application or pulling the skin? And lip exfoliator?

So, duly consulted with I bought some things I liked (lip exfoliator being my favourite - how I've managed thus far I don't know) and a few things I know I'll use just once or twice before they go to the make-up cemetery in my bottom drawer (behind the nail varnish cemetery). I was told that if I didn't like anything I could take it back and get my money back 'no questions asked'. What questions do you think they might ask (if they asked them)?
'Have you put it on properly?'
'Why is there only half an inch at the bottom left if it make your skin peel off?'
'Did it not strike you that purple lipstick on your thin lips would look hideous?'
It's one of those guarantees nobody EVER takes up. It's like buying extra cover on your 65 quid microwave to extend the manufacturers warrantee by another 2 years even though you know they are built to break down the week after it expires.

And so I left promising to return for more MK goodies. I get a phone call in 2 days just to check everything is ok which means I use everything religiously and give accurate feedback, or lie. HHmmmmm....a dilemma. Not really.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Mixed pickles

Funny old day.....still limping, weather going Canadian again, Martha talking about midgets, buried my husband. The latter is something I do pretty much every time my husband doesn't arrive/phone me at the precise second he said he would (or I thought he would) so he's familiar with the grave - in my mind.

So, in order. Bloody foot whispered lies to me in my sleep telling me it was getting better and I didn't need to worry about hanging on the line to the insurance company for interminable button pressing sessions, or waiting for hours and hours and hours.....and hours in a waiting room in a hospital in a province that speaks English for them to tell me it's a bad sprain and 'rest it for a while'. In truth, it still bloody hurts but with less venom than when I first 'broke' it.

The weather was warm on Monday, i.e. plus something. Tomorrow (Thursday) it's going to be minus 20. Who can buy a coat to deal with that? I bought a coat this morning which was eminently suitable then, but is of bugger all use tomorrow morning. Despite me having no social life I suspect I'll have more clothes than I've ever had ( though that isn't anything to write to anywhere about) simply due to surviving the weather. Surviving. get a flavour see my blog about her. Tonight, whilst talking about the intricacies and dilemmas of giving to charity she mentioned a teacher who had recently visited Burundi. The conversation went thus.
Me: Do you know where Burundi is?
Her: Africa
Me: (impressed) Yes, it is.
Her: Well they have little doctors there.
Me: (processing what she could mean...) Small doctors? What's wrong with small doctors?
Her: Not small doctors, Mam. Just not lots.
Ah......the English language..mixed with Canadian, French....and most of all, Martha.

And so back to my husband's funeral. Delayed, thankfully, for some time yet. I kept him talking until 3am his time (he's abroad, not living a Star Trek dream) to make sure he wasn't about to croak. The nearest he was to croaking was passing out from jet lag exhaustion. But alive.

Bring on Thursday.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Whether the weather be hot.....

... or whether the weather be rain, in the middle of winter in Canada. Nobody told me about rain in winter over here. Snow, yes. Lots of it. 'Brutal winters' they said. Brutal? The snow is melting - I can now see the metal dog bowl we put on top of the BBQ in case the dogs licked it and got their tongues stuck, a la Dumb and Dumber. Dog poop will no longer be frozen and relatively smell-free; it will be sloppy and malodorous to the extent of requiring a gas mask, or a huge lung capacity. The cacti the landlord left in pots around the pool are peeping at me, accusing me. Well I hate potted plants, especially cacti and it's not in my lease that I must care for them. Or care about them. The dogs, who have just got used to the snow are now refusing to voluntarily go out to do their business. It's no easy task pushing an unwilling 130lb dog out of the door and then expect him to feel relaxed enough to defecate in public. However, the alternative gave me strength.

Of course this rain will inevitably freeze, turning already treacherous roads into death rinks. Not much point buying a four by four if the tyres are completely useless. It just means I'll be able to do a double axel rather than the two wheel drive toe loop. It's not bad enough I have to drive with a gammy foot (see last post) but I also have to work out slide patterns, 'breaking' distances and which cars to hit with least impact on my insurance.

The forecast suggests 'light rain' today (tell my dogs it's light) which in Canada speak is an inch of rain, and 6 degrees. Positively tropical. I'm glad to see that by the weekend it will be -17 and snowing. That's proper weather.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Oochy ouch

Plans for week commencing 18th January:
- start to go to gym every morning in order to become lithe
- buy all of the planned birthday presents for my husband's birthday at the weekend
- go to very nice hotel and take advantage of free ice skating and snow shoeing

Actual events for week commencing 18th January:
- sit on sofa with injured foot propped up and watch shite TV
- give my husband the one present I've bought which was at best a gimmick present.
- go to nice hotel and stay in.

Stepping off my bed was how I hurt my foot. Simply stepping off the bed, foot decides to turn drastically and Ooooowwwwwww. Tears to the eyes, big painful screaming - thank god I'd had a glass of wine which probably numbed the pain a bit. Then again - perhaps I wouldn't have hurt my foot if I didn't have a glass of wine. Who knows? What it means is that I'm dragging my foot around like a redundant limb. It's just not fair. I join a gym with magnificently over-zealous plans to become a gym bunny and get a body beautiful - 3 days later this happens. I haven't so much as broken a sweat at the place and now I'm, at best, going to be able to do bicep curls. I may end up having Arnold Schwarzenegger's upper body and some sad fat bird's lower body (i.e. mine). Sodding Sod's Law.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Slowly does it...

I joined a gym yesterday. Must be the fifth time in my life. And each and every time I join I have an enthusiastic initial spurt then just pay them the 50 quid a month for the sake of it. But this time I may have it cracked! I joined for 3 months only which means I can get my initial enthusiasm over at about the same time as my membership lapses. Or so I thought.

I got there this morning at 7am. SEVEN A.M. Some of you would still be snuggled up in bed when I was all sweaty and red. I arrived and went to the desk where someone who wasn't the one I joined with stood. I asked her about where I could leave my bag, etc and we started talking. Not only did she advise me that everyone knew everyone at the gym but she is also the mother of my daughter's friend. I felt the cold tentacles of fear crawl slimily up my back. I'd thought I'd be anonymous and fade away anonymously when I got bored but it was starting to sound like I might just get drawn into gym 'buddies' and training groups. God! How could I be so stupid?

I only have 2 choices here. I never go back and make up some ailment story. Or, gulp, I get fit. How will I cope with weight loss and a toned body after a lifetime of flab and breathlessness? Well let's not count our chickens just yet......I may yet find another escape route.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A Trip to the Doctors

I would like to highlight the difference in experiences between going to see my old (ex, not decrepit) doctor in the UK, and seeing my new doctor here.

UK experience

- Phone to make an appointment - usually available that day or the following day (immediately available for children).
- Turn up at surgery and book yourself in on touchpad screen.
- Wait in modern surgery with current magazines available to read and a children's play area.
- Listen to piped classical music.
- Get called in over the tannoy by your doctor
- Sit in his spacious office

Canada experience

- Guess when you might be sick and make earliest appointment which will be no sooner than a month ahead (for children, go to emergency room at a hospital if urgent)
- Turn up at surgery and wait until the receptionist finishes putting 4 people on hold
- Sit on the vinyl chairs and look around at the rows filing cabinets against every wall, presumably full of confidential information.
- Listen to receptionist putting people on hold
- Get called in by your Doctor who comes into waiting room
- Sit in his cubby hole.

I went today not knowing what I'd be able to get. Are doctors tight with their medication here? Do they make you try everything else before prescribing anything useful. Nope. Drugs, physio and x-ray all prescribed. So despite the different approach to patient waiting experiences I might actually get better.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

I told you so!

My husband and I have promised not to be party to that weird Canadian pastime of walking (and even driving) across frozen lakes. It's simple really - it's ice, it can crack. And it does crack. Let's not pretend we are being over cautious here - people die in frozen lakes. And it's just lazy! Drive/walk around like you do in summer - work off some Christmas calories for goodness sake.

Shopping is strange here

There's one shop in town that I have wanted to go to but hadn't until yesterday. Mainly because it's really hard to park there - there are only 2 spaces in front of the shop. Yesterday I got one of those spaces. I pulled up and got out of the car. A man with a young German Shepherd over the road shouted 'Hello'. I thought he was being (over) friendly but said hello back.
'My wife is at the Post Office'.
Oh....why did I bloody care where his wife was?
'I don't have a key'.
Bloody hell - a madman who's locked out.
'She won't be long'.
Penny dropped - his wife owned the shop.
10 minutes later he turns up with dog and a key and said,
'Are you German?'
'No, English'.
'Ah, she's German', he said pointing to the dog.
Didn't know what to say so said nowt. He lets me in to the shop which is about the size of a changing room and it is cram packed with stuff; jewellery, clothes, shoes, bags, belts, toys. It's piled high and packed deep. The clothes seem to be a mix of new and second hand and the shoes definitely are. I eyed a pair of comfortable slip-ons before I came to my senses. He kept shouting from somewhere in the back 'she won't be long'.
The wife eventually turns up. She looks like a potato farmer and has what sounds like an eastern european accent. She was that height between short and toddler, the height where it's almost impossible to resist tousling her hair. I resisted.
I browse the funky/crap/1970's/cool mix of items determined to buy something. You have to buy something when you enter such a small shop - it's the law (well probably is here). I found three necklaces, one for Eldest, Youngest and myself. And for spending over $20 I got a free scarf. The type arab terrorists used to wear, but purple. I produced my bank card.
'Is this a bank card?'
'You'll have to come with me. Excuse the mess.'
She took me in the direction of her husband's voice, indeed she stood me in front of the television her husband was watching as he ate his lunch (probably potatoes) so I could put my PIN in.
'This is the phone line,' she said needlessly.
Her living room was of the same style as her shop and I realised it wasn't that she had too much stock and piled and packed it - it just seemed to be her thing. Books and clothes and games were piled high and thick around the room.
She played with the dog (who was German) and I completed my transaction trying to look inconspicuous in my foot thick winter clothes. The husband didn't seem to notice me so it must have worked.
I left promising to come back though, of course, not meaning it.
'Tell people about us,' were her parting words.
Hence the blog.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Christmas, New Year and dirt.

My first Canadian Christmas and New Year. Completely uneventful. Except for the desperately hard work I put in to eating, drinking and doing no cleaning except enough to stave off E.Coli.

And now I pay the price:

- Fat needs to be fought
- Drink needs to be drastically reduced
- Dirt needs to be swept/dusted/vacuumed

So, Day 1. The dogs thought they'd make Day 1 just a little harder by leaving me large sloppy poops all over the basement carpets. Thanks boys, tackling poop at 6am is my favourite thing.

I have been off the cleaning for a fortnight now so thought I'd break myself in gently by mixing sweeping with Lexulous with tea with BBC News. Tea wins. By 10.30am I have swept necessary rooms (the ones people see), streaked into the lead of my very letter-lucky sister in Lexulous, listened to news of a Gordon Brown coup, and drank 6 cups of tea. Yorkshire tea...mmmmmm.
And I haven't eaten more than one piece of Christmas cake or consumed alcohol. Things are looking good for Day 1. Day 5 could be a worry as we take delivery of 60 bottles of wine that I ordered before I became so abstemious. Perhaps the children could hide them and ration us.

Things I learned about Canada over the last few weeks:

- you can't buy Christmas Crackers here
- snow of any depth does not slow drivers down
- frozen dog poops (poosicles) are a bugger to pick up
- eggnog is thin custard
- I can still get coldsores here
- I can still get fat here

My highlight? My MacBook
My lowlight? 6am poop cleaning

Happy 2010.